The Diocesan Preschool curriculum is planned to enhance the total development of the growing child and is organized sequentially following a theme or unit. Our teachers are qualified and nurturing with ongoing yearly enrichment training.
Our educational aim is to make each learning activity for your child fun, game-like, developmentally appropriate, challenging but not frustrating, and a multisensory experience. The students of S JPS are exposed to many concepts and encouraged in creativity. We are delighted at the mastery of concepts; however, mastery is not a forced expectation. There will be plenty of time in the future during the St. John Elementary school years for mastery of concepts and review. Our focus is on exposure to appealing learning activities.
3-year-old Preschool Program
The preschool admits children who are three years old by September 30th of the current school year and are bathroom independent.
The focus of our preschool program is to provide learning activities through play. The child’s social development is emphasized through sharing, following directions, initiating conversations and play situations with other children, appropriately entering into group activities, developing a positive relationship with teachers and staff, and caring for the feelings of others. Phonemic and number concept skills are introduced. Further presentation of this material is done as the student advances into our pre-K program. Children encounter activities daily with their teacher on a one-to-one or two-to-one basis, as well as group endeavors. The 3-year-old students might participate in library, P.E., and music experiences with respective teachers at the elementary school.
The pre-K program admits children who are four years old by September 30th of the current school year. The focus of the pre-kindergarten program is exposure to knowledge and social skills that make the adjustment easy for the child to progress and adapt to kindergarten. Many of the same concepts are introduced in preschool and pre-kindergarten programs; however, concept development and analytical investigation are integral in our pre-kindergarten.
Children will be challenged to develop an awareness of the world around them and exercise judgment. Students encounter activities daily with their teacher on a one-to-one or two-to-one basis. They are encouraged to work within a group to brainstorm solutions. Pre-K students might participate in computer, library, Spanish, P.E., and music with respective teachers at our elementary school.
The Enrichment program is designed to provide an engaging environment that incorporates students’ specific academic strengths and weaknesses. This three-hour extension of the pre-kindergarten school day allows students to have additional one-on-one time with a qualified teacher. During this time, teachers will work on developmental skills and processes.
A teacher-led enrichment rotation is one of the highlights of this program. This station rotation will work in small groups and center around a theme. Stations will include (but are not limited to) science, art, phonics, math, fine motor skills, and audiobooks. At this time, the second teacher will invite students, one at a time, to work on skills that are customized to each student’s needs.
This add-on program is only open to registered 5-day pre-K students and will cap at 16 students.
The personal social development of each child is a primary goal for St. John Preschool teachers. A positive self-concept is essential to successful learning. Basic social interaction between two children, between the teacher and the child, and group interaction provide ways in which the child learns skills to help him relate to others. We encourage a child to make choices. Personal development includes such acts as a child washing his own hands, separating from a parent with relative ease, caring for his own belongings, and respecting others. Social Development includes cooperative play, sharing, following directions, initiating conversations and play situations with peers, entering into group activities, developing a positive relationship with teachers, and caring about others.
Our religion program provides the opportunity for children to discover God and the world around them through their spontaneity, creativity, and uniqueness. We integrate Christ’s teachings throughout the child’s day. The staff supports the child in the development of a positive self-image in relation to a loving God. Our weekly schedule includes “chapel time” in which we actively demonstrate our appreciation to God through song, movement, and prayer. Our Catholic religion curriculum reflects a study of God’s gifts to us. We teach prayer and events in the liturgical year, including Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Teachers model Christian behavior and teach students how to integrate “The Golden Rule” into daily decision-making.
Verbal communication skills enable a child to share his or her world with others. At the preschool level, these skills include listening, speaking, and thinking. Putting thoughts into words is a primary skill upon which future language development is based. Transferring a child’s spoken word into written form is an important activity in our classrooms. In addition, visual and auditory discrimination and memory are important readiness skills that can be taught through play activities. Listening to and sharing stories, enjoying poetry, and performing finger plays enhance the love of language.
The mathematics curriculum involves each student developing awareness and learning to exercise judgment. This knowledge comes from the understanding of colors, shapes, size differences, and positions of objects, basic counting skills, identifying patterns, forming groups, and recognizing numerals. Our students are exposed to these concepts through table-top manipulatives, group counting, play experience, and circle activities.
We use the Easy Street reading series by Scott Forseman. Children are taught letter recognition, phonemic awareness, word attack skills, and decoding skills. Reading is an integral part of our preschool/pre-K day.
Movement is also a vital part of the development of our young students. Gross motor work is encouraged as appropriate to the child’s physical development and is stimulated through large muscle activities such as walking, running, jumping, and hopping. Rhythm and movement provide an outlet for creative expression and the joy of using the body in dance, games, and organized play. Fine motor development is encouraged through using clay, stringing beads, gluing, coloring with crayons, painting, lacing, and using scissors.
Most of all, we (children and teachers alike) play and interact. Play is a child’s world. While every learning activity contains an element of play, our classrooms are designed to provide a wide variety of opportunities. In addition, we are fortunate to have an outdoor playtime scheduled on the playground near the elementary school, weather permitting.
Our rooms are set up with learning centers. Children select activities from areas such as blocks, housekeeping, books, art, puzzles, and math or science table-top manipulatives. A new dramatic play area may be introduced monthly. Media centers are often changed to explore and experience various sensory materials.
As a child builds with blocks, he or she is developing control of the small muscles of fingers and hands as blocks are added to a structure. Perceptions of size, weight, and shape are developing and language skills are growing as students discuss what they are building. Cooperation and planning among children develop as they work together toward a common goal.
Housekeeping and Dramatic Play
The housekeeping and dramatic play areas allow students the opportunity to use their imaginations and ‘try on’ various roles from the adult world. Through play, children try to make sense of the events happening around them and cope with the emotions surrounding them. Social skills grow as children choose definite roles in the play of the day whether it is playing house, school, vet, etc.
Art and Music
Art materials that are accessible to children allow them to make choices, interact with a variety of materials, and learn to think and be creative. The process of working with the materials is more important than what is actually produced. Choices are made as children select paper, particular colors of paint, and experiment with the way they are applied. Children develop a vocabulary of descriptive words such as soft, hard, squishy, smooth, rough, striped, checkered, etc. Student art projects are always evident at our preschool! One can observe the joyful, creative experience that our students enjoy and easily see that it is full of self-expression. Music encourages creative expression by the way the music-maker communicates the sound and by the physical and emotional response that the sound evokes from the listener. We encourage a child’s natural love and appreciation for music.
Puzzles, Games, and Manipulatives
Students enjoy playing with small toys at tables or on the floor. Controlled movements of the fingers and hands enable children to master the muscles necessary for writing. As children work with colors and patterns, they develop visual discrimination and memory. When children pretend about things that they have built, they are taking their first steps in the use of symbols which are important as they begin to read and write.
As students explore books on their own or with the interacting teacher, they begin to notice that print goes from left to right and top to bottom, that pictures often tell a story, and that the story stays the same as it is read over and over. Listening, paying attention, sequencing, and thinking skills are being used as children enjoy a story. Children become acquainted with new vocabulary words and the style of formal written English as they listen to stories.
Science and Math Interest Centers
Students may interact with materials and equipment on their own or in small groups as they explore items at these interest centers. Counting shells, sorting leaves by size or shape, and classifying rocks by type are examples of activities young children enjoy. Teachers provide names of items and ask questions such as “How are these alike?”; “How are these different?”; “Is this bigger?”; “Is this smaller?” Student interest grows as they think about everyday items in new ways. Seasonal opportunities abound in Warrenton as students learn about temperature, weather, and the environment. Mathematics is presented with sequencing, patterning, and numeral recognition. Students learn the basic mathematical terms of addition, subtraction, greater than and less than, and numeral recognition. We count everything! Steps, students, cotton balls, even kernels of corn!
A Typical School Day
7:45-8:00 AM Curbside and Regular drop-off
8:00 AM Children gather in classes. Morning Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance are recited. Free choice from a variety of planned center activities, which cover but are not limited to manipulative media, math, fine motor, creative expression, and science.
9:00 AM Circle time; Teacher-directed activities which include the introduction of the theme and concepts, book reading and, group discussions, musical activities, and free-choice play.
9:30 AM Activities include musical activities and free-choice play with fine and gross motor skills. Craft and art activities.
10:30 AM Snack Time and Meal Blessing. The parent provides the snack.
10:50 AM Circle time; Calendar and weather graphing, book presentation, group discussion.
11:30 AM Guardian Angel prayer and pack up.
Outdoor play on the playground. The preschool enjoys being able to share the playground with our elementary school. Our students are on the playground during the preschool’s assigned time.
12:00 PM Dismissal
In addition to the preceding brief outline, each class gathers weekly for Chapel. During this time we sing bible songs, thank God for our blessings, and restate the weekly gospel. We also meet weekly for music, computer, Spanish, library & P.E. classes.